Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: phil lesh (page 1 of 86)

Phils Like The First Time

You know I don’t do the Today in GD History bit too much; in fact, I resent May 8th and that miserable week in August for drawing so much attention to themselves. Some dates need celebrating, I suppose, but not all of them. Certainly not the 38th anniversary of a show in San Jose.

Unless, of course, it’s Brent’s first show. To honor him, I present you with this photo that he’s not in. This would set a tone for the rest of Brent’s tenure in the band.


If you only had this picture, you would think Phil had a head like a Pachycephalosaurus.

Once You Pop

This is 6/18/67 at the Monterey Fairgrounds. I don’t know if I’ve listened to it; I will now, though. This show was the Monterey Pop Festival, legendary for its unlegendariness (at least as far as the Dead goes). The Boys were scheduled in between The Who (beginning a long inter-band relationship) and Jimi Hendrix (beginning his and Bobby’s best friendship); both acts put on high-volume shows punctuated by instrument destruction, arson, and explosives. In the face of such showmanship, the Dead countered by standing there and playing Viola Lee for 14 minutes.

They also refused to be filmed for the movie, which gives them a perfect record for avoiding being in iconic Rock Films: Monterey Pop, Woodstock, Gimme Shelter. Dead missed ’em all by thaaaat much.

There’s Always One More

Here you go, Enthusiasts: this is my contribution. Previously, there were three pictures of Bobby in various stages of bunnification; now there are four. (I always figure if I haven’t seen a photo, then most haven’t. If that comes across as arrogant, well: consider the topic. It’s like bragging about Magic the Gathering. And plus I didn’t even claim to be the best at it, so it’s like bragging about coming in sixth at a Magic the Gathering tournament.)

The Grateful Dead, Younger Enthusiasts, didn’t do a lot of teevee. Possibly because the first time they were booked on a show, Playboy After Dark in 1969, they ended up dosing the entire building. But it also makes sense: there weren’t too many televised venues for any rock music back then. There was Ed Sullivan in the 1960’s, and the Smothers Brothers for a year or two, but after that the opportunities dried up. Pop stars were all over the dial, obviously, but not rock. Johnny Carson didn’t book bands at all until much later in his run. There was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and that was about it.

And then, in 1975, came Saturday Night Live. They had rock bands on, good ones and wild ones and sometimes things would go terribly wrong, which was horribly entertaining, and they had very hip taste. Tom Waits was on in 1977, and Sun Ra in ’78. The first four musical guests in ’78 were the Stones, Devo, Frank Zappa, and Van Morrison. (Zappa was actually the host, and that went precisely as well as you’d assume. It turns out that “doing sketch comedy with stoners” wasn’t in Frank’s toolbox; he and the cast hated each other by the end of the week.)

Week five was the Dead. The comedy writers Al Franken (who is now a Senator) and Tom Davis (who is now dead) were massive Deadheads and lobbied Lorne Michaels to book the band. He didn’t want to–the Dead were not very cool at the time, and certainly not Lorne Michaels’ New York-centric version of cool–but one has to believe that Al Franken can wear you down. Lorne must have liked them because he had them back the following year, and even let Billy be in a sketch.


Told you.

Contrary to Frank’s Zappa’s surliness, the Dead are affable fellows (and Mrs. Donna Jean) and made friends with the cast; Belushi and Ackroyd would do their Blues Brothers routine at Winterland with the band the night they closed the place down.

Phil may or may not have gone to town on Lorraine Newman.

Brown-Eyed Women And Purple Manischewitz

Hey, Phil. Whatcha doing?


Well, that’s just lovely.

“I’m not a Jew, but I am Jew-ish.”

Well put.

“Tell that joke every year.”

It’s a good one.

“The Dead are what you might consider ‘Jew-adjacent.’ Almost all of our promoters were Jews.”

And Jewy Jews, at that.

“You’re a member of the tribe. Who was Jewishest?”

Bill Graham. No question. He was the second-most Jewish you could be.

“There’s a ranking?”

We’re into making lists. The most Jewish Jews died in the Holocaust. Slightly less Jewish are those who survived it, like Bill. Third are Jews who lost relatives. Least Jewish is Jews like me, whose entire known family was in America at the time. It’s like Six Degrees of Sobibor.

“Jews are odd.”

You have no idea.


Back atcha.

Mister Clean Is The Man

Hey, Enthusiasts! It’s spring!

For, like, two weeks already.

In my defense, there aren’t four seasons in Florida. There’s six months of “almost too hot.” and six months of “far too fucking hot Jesus Christ my balls are epoxied to my thigh with sweat .” Spring and autumn don’t happen here. Or winter. Florida is just varying degrees of summer.

So what brings about this realization that the civilized world has entered spring?

News reports. Pictures of cherry blossoms. Also, it’s 93 degrees and 50% humidity out there; last week, it was lovely. Something’s changed.

Climate Change?

Did you not hear me when I said “Florida?” Every summer is like this. Remember when all the Avengers were fighting at the airport and Paul Rudd got real big?


Like being up his ass. That is what Florida is like from April to October. Hot and so, so, so sticky.

Did you begin this post with a point or is this one of those times you just started typing?



Spring cleaning time, Enthusiasts! I have had–for what seems like weeks now–some tabs open on my desktop that I meant to have something interesting to say about. Failing that, something funny. Failing that, I figured I could half-ass a dialogue or a list or something. (Loyal readers will know that TotD is the reigning champ of half-assing dialogues and lists.)

But, Jesus, I’m beaten. I got nothing. Here we go:

Someone’s selling a speaker cabinet that Phil that Phil supposedly used for the Europe ’72 tour. The back looks like this:

The front looks like the front of a speaker cabinet. I told you: I got nothing. Wait. I got something.

Get the hell out of there.

“Heeeey, man.”

Soup, why are you living in Phil’s speaker cabinet from 1972?

“You heard of the Tiny House movement, man?”


“I win, man.”

And so on.

Brent’s daughter, Jennifer Mydland, made her performing debut the other day in her dad’s hometown of Lafayette, California. She’s got a lovely voice, and she had two of the longhairs that hang around TXR as her band.

She sounded like this:

I hate to end this cheery section on a sour note, but I have to upbraid JamBase for burying the lede of this story.

SHAKEY ZIMMERMAN. There’s a name that brings home the bacon and then sexually satisfies the bacon. You lead off the first paragraph with that, JamBase. Maybe that’s your subhead, even: LOCAL MAN HAS AWESOME NAME. I expect more from you, JamBase. Don’t be like Live4LiveMusic.

Rock Scene! was a magazine that came out sporadically in the 70’s; the best I can figure out is that it was New York’s version of Creem. The great Lisa Robinson (whose book There Goes Gravity is one of the better Rock Books ever written) and her husband ran it; he was a producer for Lou Reed and Vladimir Putin’s favorite band, The Flaming Groovies. The covers were colored, and glossy, but the pages instead were newsprint and the pictures–and kids bought these things for the pictures–were black and white. The magazine folded in ’83. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.

But never underestimate the Rock Nerd. Some kind soul found the whole run, all 54, and scanned ’em into the cyber for everyone to look at. You should look. Why won’t you look?

Stop hassling people.

I need to pump up my clickthroughs.







Did you just cut your leg off with a chainsaw and exsanguinate?


The thing about the clickthroughs?


Can I please talk about the magazine that no one remembers from 40 years ago?

You can.

Go check it out, Enthusiasts, if just for the uncut hit of 70’s weirdness. Look at this bullshit:

(I guarantee you that when Gene read these reviews, he thought they were good.)

Plus the site is well-designed, and you leaf through the pages with a very satisfying FLICK sound.

This has not been on my desktop for long, but now I am getting rid of everything, and so you should read this article about Alligator (the guitar, not the song or reptile) by the great Jesse Jarnow. The only question I have is this:

Alligators have teeth. Sure, they also have claws, but the claws aren’t the star of the show. Teeth are the headliners. If we were playing a word-association game and I said “alligator,” you would say “teeth.” If you said “claws,” I would be like, “Shit, this motherfucker’s crazy.”

It saddens me to say this, but I now must now take anything the great Jesse Jarnow tells me about reptiles with a grain of salt. 2017 is about losing your innocence.

Stop being weird.

He is deliberately emphasizing the wrong part of an alligator!

I swear you only write so you can come up with sentences no one’s said before.

Oh, anyone can do that. The trick’s making them make sense.

You’re stalling because you don’t want to talk about the commercial real estate guys.

Ugh. The first real estate deal ever made in New York was when the Dutch bought the place from the Manhasset. We are told that the price was $24 worth of beads. What is not mentioned are the broker’s fee and hidden charges that brought the real amount up to 40 bucks. Since then, one of New York’s primary economic drivers has been trading parts of itself to itself. Sometimes other countries will come and buy parts of New York–the Japanese in the 1980’s, the Chinese now–but mostly the city sells itself to itself.

Like any business, there is glamour. You could sell a condo to Doctors Oz or Phil. But most of it the dreariest slog you can imagine: negotiating 30-year leases on office buildings in Long Island City; selling warehouses in Bayhurst. Someone has to do the due diligence on a dental building in Staten Island. Not gonna be me.

And, apparently, some of these guys (they’re all guys) listen to the Dead. One of them listens to the Dead and loves Trump, but I don’t think we can blame all commercial real estate guys for the lunatic beliefs of a fringe few. Still, though: maybe we should stop letting them in the country for a while. Just until we know what’s going on.

And now I am clean, reborn; pure again in the eyes of the Christ.

You shut several internet pages.


I hate you so.

Bottom Of The Jam, Bassist Is Loaded

Look at you rocking out.


Just saying hi.

“You said it.”

Baseball, huh? You a baseball guy?

“Why would you assume that?”

Old white guys love them some baseball.

“That is ageist, racist, and sexist.”

True, though.

“Sure. Ever see that Ken Burns documentary?”

Ten hours of old white people in sweaters talking about Roberto Clemente.

“He was a fan.”

Roberto Clemente was a Deadhead?

“He was at Veneta.”

Not true.

“Oh, yeah. Remember Naked Pole Guy?”

How could anyone forget him?

“And then he has shorts a couple songs later, right?”


“Who do you think threw him the shorts?”

Roberto Clemente did not throw a pair of jean shorts at Naked Pole Guy.

“Whistled ’em in there, too. Guy had a cannon for an arm. Mickey was supposed to be on the plane with him when it crashed.”

Also not true.

“It was ’72. Mickey didn’t have anything to do. He was gonna tape the natives playing drums. And then fuck some natives. Maybe the same natives, maybe not. Mickey plays it by ear.”

Why wasn’t he on the plane?

“Tried to choke the pilot.”

That sounds right.

Balloony, Tunes

They ran a tight ship.


It’s past that kid’s bedtime.


Rarest Phil of all: baseball cap Phil.


Could the giant speaker be any closer to Keith’s head? When he died, how deaf you think he was on a scale of one to Mickey?


On New Year’s, Precarious always amused himself by getting the newest member of the crew to look for the “heavy helium” to fill the balloons with.


Seriously, why is Phil wearing a hat?

Phlock’n To Lock’n

Hey, Phil. Whatcha doing?

“Feelin’ it!”

You’re enjoying yourself.

“Lucky man.”

You are. I couldn’t post pictures for a couple days.

“I don’t give a shit.”

And I had a medical procedure.

“Oh, well, that’s not good. You all right?”

I got through it.

“The procedure  was…?”


“You fucking with me?”


“You’re gonna come at me with an endoscopy? I got another human’s liver in me. You want sympathy, you need at least a triple bypass. Is that what you’ve been whining about? Endoscopy? Kiss my ass.”

It was traumatic. I was woozy all day.

“You were woozy?”

Very high levels of wooze.

“I see.”

You’re playing with Bobby at Lock’n. That’s exciting.


The Disco Biscuits are gonna be there.

“Good for them.”

And Fogerty.


Government Mule.


Woody Hayes’ band.


Warren Haynes.

“Well, duh. It’s a festival so Warren’ll be there. Can’t get a festival permit if he doesn’t play. He should be waking up right about now.”

Its’ 5 pm.

“No, no. Late March. Warren hibernates in between festival seasons.”

That makes perfect sense.

“Right after Labor Day, he smokes a ton of weed, eats a million fried chickens, plugs up his butthole with grass and leaves, and goes to sleep for eight months.”

His wife put up with that?

“The last four didn’t, but this one doesn’t seem to mind.”


A Cake For Phil (And Fuck The Yankees)

“Where’s my hat?”

“What hat?”

“You got Weir a cowboy hat.”

“He thinks he’s a cowboy.”

“I could be a cowboy. What are you saying, Shapiro? I couldn’t be a cowboy?”

“You could be a cowboy.”

“There drugs in this cake?”

“It’s just cake.”

“Jesus, man. No hat, no drugs. Hell of a birthday.”

“I’ve never seen you wear a hat before.”

“You’ve never seen my asshole, either, but you know I have one.”

“That’s not a great analogy.”

“Go get me a cowboy hat and a cake made out of drugs.”

“It’s midnight in Port Chester. I can’t get either of those things.”

“What’s with the turtle?”

“On the cake?”


“Terrapin. You know: the Dead, turtles.”

“I know what it is. I want to know why you’re using my IP without paying me.”

“The dancing turtles do not belong to you.”

“Jim Irsay bought them for me.”

“Phil, I don’t think so.”

“You owe me money.”

“I’m paying you for the shows.”

“No, I’m giving you a portion of the money I make from the shows to set things up.”


“Not hurtful. Hurtful would be telling you that you did a great job in Superbad.”

“Enjoy your cake, Phil.”

“How can I without a cowboy hat or drugs?”

77 On Your Scorecard, Number One In Your Heart

Oh, Goddammit, did you make Hologram Bobby?

“I know some guys at ILM. They scanned him from beard to sandals.”

Don’t make Hologram Bobby.

“Don’t tell me what to do. There were some glitches.”

Went rogue?

“Like, immediately.”

Every time the Grateful Dead messes with magical technology, problems happen.

“Sucker went hard light. He could control his tangibility.”

That doesn’t sound like something you should be able to control.

“No, that needs to be a constant in the equation.”

Did Hologram Bobby go insane?

“He did, he did.”

Rampage through the theater like King Kong?

“Yup. Kept putting his arm through people’s chests and making it solid.”

That sounds fatal.

“I know there’s nothing more than fatal, but if there were? This would qualify. It was the fatalest thing I’ve ever seen that the drummers weren’t a part of.”


“Ran out of power pretty quick, though.”

That’s good. Phil?

“Don’t be stupid.”

Does everyone get their own iPad?

“How can you rock and roll without an iPad?”

True. Phil?

“One more stupid thing and we’re done. You’re on the thinnest of ices.”

Awesome shirt.

“The three-quarter shirt is the king of all tee-shirts. Keeps your elbows warn, but leaves your Apple Watch and sweatband exposed. It’s literally the perfect shirt for me.”

Happy birthday again.


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